If you’ve ever taken an improv class, you’ve heard the rule, “Say Yes.” If your partner says, “Man, it sure is cold up here on the moon,” you don’t say, “No, no, this is the old west.” You’d be surprised how many people want to do this.
PAs have a similar rule, or at least a similar attitude. If someone asks you to do something, you say yes. It doesn’t matter who they are, or that it’s not really your job, you just do it.
The on-set dresser is moving furniture? Lift the other end of the couch. The location manager needs to copy some maps? Take the originals and run the copies yourself. The set PA needs signs saying, “Base Camp This Way–>”? Fire up the computer and make it happen.
You’re a PA; you say yes.
The problem is, this can quickly turn into abuse. One day, you ask the post PA if she wants you to pick up something from the studio, since you’re going anyway. The next day, the post coordinator calls you up and tells you he needs you to deliver dailies to seven executives, and a couple of producers along the way.
Wardrobe, casting, hair, and make-up all love to find things for other departments to do for them. If you’re not careful, you’ll find you don’t have time to do your own job.
What you need is a coordinator or AD who will protect you. You can’t say no, but they can.
They can say, “You’ve got your own PA/intern.”
Of course, sometimes this is just like your older brother defending you from a bully– “No one gets to beat up my little brother but me.” Still, the devil you know…